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Imran poised to play a ‘long and productive innings’

By Agencies
August 19, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Captain had settled on the crease and now he was ready to play a long and productive innings, said planning minister Asad Umar, as the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) government on Tuesday unveiled its two-year performance report highlighting its successes on the internal and external fronts.

“It is bad news for all my friends in opposition that the captain (Prime Minister Imran Khan) has settled on the crease and now he is ready to play a long and productive innings and from here Pakistan will see good days in future,” said Umar as he addressed a press conference alongside other cabinet members, here on Tuesday. He said Imran Khan became the Prime Minister after 22 years of long struggle from grassroots level.

Cabinet members including Information Minister Senator Shibli Faraz, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Industries Minister Barrister Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Planning Minister Asad Umar and Special Assistant to PM on Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar presented the two-year performance of the government.

In his remarks, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said the governments were answerable before the masses in a democratic setup. “Our aim is to transform Pakistan into a welfare state,” he said, adding: “It is the vision of Prime Minister Khan to serve the masses especially those belonging to downtrodden segments of society. He said the people had rejected the politics of vested interests.

“Our enemy wants to destabilise our economy and create anarchy in the country,” he said, adding his ministry would fully confront this challenge as a united nation without any division. The information minister said the first two years were difficult but now the good days had started.

Sharing the achievements on the external front, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said: “It is because of our effective policy of the last two years that the Kashmir dispute stands internationalised today”.

He said the UN Security Council held discussions on the outstanding dispute three times in a year. He pointed out Prime Minister Khan in his address to the UN General Assembly and other international forums forcefully raised the dispute. “India wanted to isolate Pakistan at the regional and international levels but we foiled their plots.”

The foreign minister said intra-Afghan dialogue was about to commence and Pakistan had played its part in it. He said there had been a narrative shift regarding Pakistan over the last two years. “Pakistan is no longer considered part of problem but part of solution,” he said, adding Pakistan was now being viewed as a partner in peace.

Qureshi said: “We gave the concept of economic diplomacy to enhance our economic footprint. During this period we also revitalised our relations with our longstanding friends. Our relationship with China is transforming into a strong economic partnership.”

He said the second phase of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) involved industrialisation in Pakistan. Enhancing agriculture productivity, poverty alleviation and human resource development were other important components of the second phase of the corridor project, he added.

“Pakistan has signed strategic engagement plan with the European Union and as part of economic diplomacy we also engaged with Africa,” the foreign minister said, adding the Prime Minister’s global debt relief initiative for the developing countries was acknowledged by the world.

Highlighting the problems inherited by present government on the economic front and the steps taken to overcome them Adviser on Finance Hafeez Shaikh said: “It is our historic performance that the current account deficit was brought down from $20 billion to $3 billion.” He said the government returned loans of Rs5,000 billion.

Shaikh said the government also curtailed its expenditures. “The budgets of President House and the Prime Minister House were reduced whilst that of the armed forces was frozen.” He said no borrowing was made from State Bank of Pakistan during the last fiscal year and no supplementary grants were given during this period.

“We gave a mega package of Rs1,240 billion to cope with the situation arising out of Covid-19. He said the biggest portion of the package went to the disadvantaged segments of society and the people rendered jobless by the pandemic.

“Our economic performance is now being hailed by international organisations including IMF, Moody’s and Fitch,” he said, adding Pakistan stock market had been recognised as the best performing market by Bloomberg.

Shaikh said the government’s economic policy had started bearing fruit. He said record remittances of $2.8 billion were received in the month of July. “The people of Pakistan are the priority of Prime Minister Khan,” he said and added the economic gains will be further consolidated in the days ahead.

Industries Minister Hammad Azhar said regardless of Covid-19 pandemic all the supply chains were kept open to ensure availability of essential commodities to the people. He said timely decisions were taken by the present government for gradual reopening of industries.

Azhar said two new policies were given by the government — electric vehicle policy and mobile manufacturing policy. He said the manufacturing of two and three wheelers electric vehicles will start this year, while Pakistan will also begin export of smart phones.

He said difficult decisions were taken vis-à-vis state enterprises, including Pakistan Steel Mills and added Pakistan had also made significant progress to meet the action plan of Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Planning Minister Asad Umar said Pakistan was being ranked amongst the few countries which had successfully confronted Covid-19. He attributed this success to the decisions taken in a timely manner with consensus. He said the government proved it had the competence and the will to address the challenges.

In her remarks, Special Assistant Dr Sania Nishtar gave a detailed briefing on Ehsaas programme and its different components. She said the Ehsaas programme launched 15 months ago was the country’s biggest ever social safety net.